Oak Ridge freshman David Handen is in Israel, representing the United States in the World Maccabiah Games. Village Life photo by Julie Samrick

News

Handen kicks it, hopes for gold in Israel

By From page A1 | July 05, 2017

Incoming Oak Ridge High School freshman and soccer player David Handen has arrived in Israel to represent the United States at the 20th World Maccabiah Games this month.

First held in 1932, the World Maccabiah Games are an international Jewish multi-sport event held every four years in Israel often referred to as the Jewish Olympics. This year’s games take place July 4-18, involving 78 countries and more than 9,000 athletes. It’s the third largest international sporting event in the world behind the Olympics and Soccer’s World Cup. The United States has sent more than 1,200 athletes to participate in 40 sporting events.

Competitions are organized into four distinct divisions — Juniors, Open, Masters and Disabled. It’s described as “an opportunity for Jewish athletes to meet and convene, with opportunities to explore Israel and Jewish history.”

David said he learned about the World Maccabiah Games from friends who had participated in the past. He tried out for a spot in Los Angeles in January. Tryouts were also held in Philadelphia. Approximately 100 soccer players born in 2001 or 2002 tried out for one of the 20 spots.

“I was really excited to get a spot on the team,” David said. “My soccer roster is made up of 20 players from all over the United States — as far away as Alaska, New York and South Carolina …We’ve had weekly conference calls to gel as a team.”

David has played soccer since he was 4 years old and currently plays on the Sacramento Republic ’02 Academy team as a center-midfielder.

“David’s been a pleasure to coach due to his dedication to self-improvement, game intelligence, technical ability and most importantly his respectful and kind demeanor,” said his Sac Republic Academy coach Mikey Varas. “He has been a major contributor to a very successful team all season long and I am very excited for the opportunity he has with the Maccabi National Team. I wish him and the team the best of luck.”

David will be able to get a little sightseeing in as well. “I’m most excited to meet people from all over the world and to visit the Dead Sea,” he said.

The United States Junior Soccer Team was randomly selected to go up against the hosting country; David’s first match will be against Israel’s Youth National Team.

For more information visit maccabiusa.com.

Julie Samrick

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